Guest contributor Denise O’Neill shares her story on how to go gray…

Going gray is not for everyone…

I decided to ditch the dye at the age of 45 for a number of reasons. My decision was based on the fact that as I was getting older, I felt I did not look natural with brown hair. And, this might sound funny, but my eyebrows didn’t match my dyed hair color!

As we age, our complexions get lighter, and I found that continuing to dye my hair brown made me look older—it emphasized the aging lines in my skin. I noticed too that, as is normal for women of the peri-/menopausal phase of life, my hair was getting a little thinner, especially at the front – so my scalp was more visible through the dyed hair. So how to go gray gracefully? I was frustrated by the fact that I was having to color it every two weeks to get rid of the new grey regrowth coming through… and I resented putting chemicals onto my scalp which might not be a healthy thing to do.

I thought to myself, Stop fighting it, let the color grow out and see what I really look like. So I gave it a go.

My going gray journey

I went ‘cold turkey, ’ and it took me about a year, with a lot of patience, to grow out the dyed colored hair. Firstly, I decided to get my hair cut short – it had been in a bob style. During the growing out phase, my hair was such a mess, a mixture of the old dyed color, my new natural dark brown, and the gray coming through. I felt that I looked like I was letting myself go—that I didn’t care about how I looked. Of course, this is not true—I really cared! And, being honest, it was so difficult. I purchased a great book at this time, and it really helped me to keep going: ‘Going Gray’ by Anne Kreamer. In her book, Anne Kreamer describes her journey to grey. I owe so much to Anne – she gave me great hope and confidence to carry on. Thank you, Anne! I stuck with growing out the color… and every time I had a new cut, I could see the grey/white strands of hair shining through more and more (especially around my face like a light). It was like a metamorphosis. I felt so free—free of the shackles of color—free to be the real me. I can’t wait for my hair to go even grayer/whiter and hope to enjoy the continuing journey. For me, it’s not just the outer look; it’s how I feel inside too.

How to Go Gray GracefullyDenise O’Neill lives in Lisburn, Northern Ireland. She is married with a daughter and a son and works as a part-time administrative assistant.